Anirudh Chaudhry, treasurer of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), has questioned how CEO Rahul Johri met ODI captain Mithali Raj, T20I captain Harmanpreet Kaur and manager Trupti Bhattacharya without undergoing “gender sensitivity counselling/training.”
It’s a perfectly valid question from Anirudh, son of former BCCI president Ranbir Singh Mahendra, as the counselling/training bit is a recommendation of lawyer Veena Gowda, who was on the three-member inquiry committee which probed allegations of sexual harassment against Johri.
Gowda dissented from the other two members of the inquiry committee — Justice (Retd) Rakesh Sharma and Barkha Singh — and the ‘verdict’ turned out to be 2-1.
Speaking to The Telegraph on Wednesday evening, two days after Johri and GM Syed Saba Karim met the ladies, in Mumbai, Anirudh said: “I honestly didn’t understand how that meeting took place, as I am unclear about the processes followed...
“I fully appreciate what Mithali could have gone through (on being dropped in the World T20 semi-final, against England) and I do empathise with her. However, processes cannot be done away with and it’s the role of the manager to file reports after tours...
“Normally, a player places his or her grievances before the manager...
“Depending on the nature of the grievances, the manager either addresses the issues himself/herself or brings them to the knowledge of the BCCI by way of a written communication, better known as the manager’s report...
“Such reports are confidential.”
Anirudh continued: “In this case, the meeting took place in haste, leaving in tatters established processes and protocols. It’s extremely odd that only one version of events (Mithali’s) found its way into the public domain...
“It clearly appeared to be intentional and seemed like a diversionary tactic to steer attention away from recent events.”
“Recent events” is an obvious reference to the probe against Johri.
Anirudh, of course, had more to say: “Without gender sensitivity counselling/training, how is Johri officially interacting with women cricketers and a lady manager? What about Ms Gowda’s recommendation?”
Well, somebody must answer, surely.
No matter how legitimate Mithali’s grievances against head coach Ramesh Powar (he has responded extremely strongly and in detail) and Supreme Court-appointed Administrator Diana Edulji, the leak of her 1,987-word email to two BCCI officials, continues to be the talking point.
One understands that neither Diana nor chief Administrator Vinod Rai asked Johri and Saba Karim to meet the ladies on their return from the West Indies. Nor had any of the office-bearers asked them to do so.
[Acting president Chandra Kishore Khanna, acting secretary Amitabh Choudhary and Anirudh are the three office-bearers, even though Rai has repeatedly made them feel unwanted.]
Basically, then, Johri and Saba Karim’s meeting with Mithali, Harmanpreet and Trupti was without sanction. Even if Saba Karim had to meet them as he oversees women’s cricket, there is no justification for Johri having done so.
Anybody who has followed the just-ended probe against Johri would be aware of the principled stand taken by Diana, as opposed to the distinctly pro-CEO line of Rai.
No wonder, the timing of Mithali’s rather scathing email to the two BCCI officials, and its leak the day after the ladies met Johri and Saba Karim, has fuelled speculation that Johri may have had a hand — idea being to target Diana.